Nov 15, 2014

Μη μου μιλάς για τίποτα



Isn't it wonderful how the dead can overcome time and physical space and speak to you? How comforting. I feel like this song was written for me at this moment, for where I am right now, how I am right now.

Oct 8, 2014

All there is

Traveling is like death; they both teach you how to be more comfortable with uncertainty. In that sense, I had been a little prepared. Now, I'm being prepared for the other losses in my life. Everything around me, including myself, is always changing. Think of the cells in your body regenerating - every few years you are physically a new you! Spiritually, too, you regenerate and you leave your old "self" behind, almost every day, if you are lucky. In that sense, the "backbeatlili" I woke up as today is different from the one yesterday. And that's okay. The 9-year old "me" often wondered what the 26-year old "me" would be like, but now I realise we are more like sisters, rather than the same actual person. That's liberating. That lets me make decisions for the person I am right now, rather than the person I will be down the line, who might want something different from life by then. Making too many decisions for the 50-year-old "me" right now might be disastrous, as we might ultimately want different things. Everything is always changing. And that's alright. 

What I can do is be content with now, no matter the circumstances. I know it's been said by a million people before me, but damn it's a) a hard concept to actually 'get', and b) a difficult thing to achieve. But I see now that's the only path to happiness. 

Make plans, but be prepared when they don't work out. 

Dream, but don't be consumed by your dreams.

Try to do one thing a day that has meaning to you and lets you be completely who you are.

Once you aknowledge that your identity and its continuity is in fact held in place by your brain and is not actually real, your sense of entitlement and quickness to judge slowly dissolve. In their place, self love is planted, and if you water and prune it, it becomes a deep-rooted, beautiful garden. You can then walk in the garden, and pick the berries and apples from its trees and bushes, and eat them in the shadow of the big oak tree. Other people can walk in the garden too, if you invite them, and they can also eat of the sweet fruits. And if you are lucky and have taken good care of your garden, after you die it will still be there for more people to enjoy. I know that, because I take strolls in my mother's garden, which is big and lush as a jungle, full of figs and grapes and prunes and space for quiet contemplation under the trees, but also exploration, in the vast depths of her wisdom and love. 

That's all there is. 

Sep 30, 2014

Sep 14, 2014

The Waltz of Lost Dreams

Fragments of grief

As I watch the rain, I think of the butterfly, the dragonfly, the hummingbird: where do they hide, where do they go? Did they have time to escape the storm, or are they struggling under the weight of the raindrops to flap away to safety? Are they, like me, worried about their diaphanous wings, that they might tear and send them crashing to the ground? Do they love this delicate grief that drips from their glistening bodies, and do their beady eyes accept it as part of them?

Is it possible to see again through this fog of impermanence, and live beyond the terror of being eternally nothing? Do others live with a deep, aching yearning for something unknown, and will I ever find out what that is and chase after it? Like a weed that's been painfully torn from the flower bed, I've been thrown at the side of the road. Everyday in this ditch I grow taller, and observe the things around me.  

I see the other weeds surrounding me, gathering their bristly leaves and weeping milkily, their thorny crowns bowed sadly to the ground. We are all here together, bound by our common knowledge, yet we have not found a language to share our grief. We have all bitten the apple and fallen from the heavenly garden, but we are all lonely and alone in our mortal suffering.

I have grown so much in two years, even the myriad white hairs that suddenly sprouted on my head can testify to that. I feel like I had been unconscious for twenty five years, and now I am slowly waking up to my life. Sometimes I feel so naive about personal death affecting me this way when death has always been all around us, but I guess it's one of those rites of passage every human being must experience sooner or later. 

I left behind me the land of the living for some time, and visited the Otherworld, where spirits reside. Like stepping into the fairytale swamp, I sank and sank into the mud, down and down I went, past the spider webs and tarantula holes, past the rotting leaves and humus, down through the brittle, dusty crust of the earth and then, sinking still, down the thick, boiling, viscous depths until I reached the dark, ferrous realm of the dead.

"Who's there?", a thundering voice reverberated across the infinite darkness. "I smell a Living. State your name and what you seek."

Frightened, disoriented, confused and tearful, I answered that I had forgotten my name and what I was looking for. "Dear Lord", I squeaked, "I must have been walking in the night, and lost the way. Pray tell, which way is home?"

At once, I heard a muffled shuffling sound from all around me growing louder, like the swell of a million oceans, and within seconds I was surrounded by a strangely unsettling and musky yet impalpable presence, which spoke with a billion tongues:

"Living Child, we do not know the way. We have no eyes, we gave them to the worms. Nor do we need them, for it is dark. Sit here awhile, no need to rush. But you must know, the Dead are very serious: don't make a sound, don't make a fuss - we need to rest."

Knowing nothing, naked, sad, afraid, I sat on the cold, hard ground in deep, starless darkness and listened, trying to remember who I was and where I was going to.

Jun 27, 2014

Tenedos

I've realised that there are whole genres of music I can't listen to without being reminded of my mum and being sad. Almost ALL greek music now brings tears to my eyes, so I usually avoid it. There are some days though that I wake up missing those Sundays when the four of us would pile up in the car and drive to the mountains listening to the radio. I miss the music, I miss the mountains, I miss my family, I miss the innocence of those sunny Sundays and the long road trips and listening to my parents talk about so many interesting and stimulating things. 

Part of project GRIEF is to bring back those memories that comprise my identity, and face the music, literally! This is an album that my dad got my mum when I was 9 years old. I loved it so much that I asked them to let me buy it for my favourite teacher in school (who was extremely surprised to receive it) and then in my first year in high school I sung one of the songs in the album acapella in front of my class as part of the music class "talent day". Unfortunately, the words of loss and longing went over my classmates' heads and I really couldn't understand why they were laughing at me. That was the beginning of my era as a 'misfit' in high school!










Tenedos is the title of the album, and refers to the long-suffering island in the Aegean sea, which after centuries of being conquered by different powers due to its strategic position at the entrance of the Dardanelles, was ceded to Turkey under the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923. Unlike other places where Turkey and Greece exchanged populations, the Greeks in Tenedos were allowed to stay but suffered discrimination and fear under Turkish administration, eventually fleeing the island. Tenedos is part of the painful story of the Greeks of Asia Minor.

This remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

Jun 11, 2014

Who am I?: Indonesia

I think: Indonesia was so magical. How do you explain the massive butterflies, the eerie sounds of the forest, the edible colour of people's skin, the smell of clove cigarettes and their crackling fire like tiny lighthouses in the darkness of night, the myriads of metallic coloured bugs and moths, the shapes of the leaves, the waving children, the canopy, the landscape...

Indonesia was so magical, I left a part of me there. I know because I go there in my dreams. I fly above the world on the back of a giant Hornbill, whose loud beating wings stir oceans and bend trees. Indonesia changed me, as I questioned my notions of time, normality and among others, freedom.

I saw cocoa fruits hanging from trees, and wild orchids growing on the side of the road. I saw a hornbill's nest with a little hornbill chick's head poking out, and a langur monkey dying alone on the soft forest floor. I heard stories of spirits entering people, and of brutal beheadings carried out by flying parangs. I saw eels slithering in the shallow waters of a river eel farm, and fell asleep on a boat at dusk to the sound of a hundred muezzins calling the faithful to prayer. I was kissed under a cascading waterfall of an undiscovered Eden, and made love on a floating house while the tides rolled out to reveal a glistening treasure of crabs, shells, creatures. 

And now I am here, co-inhabiting with my grief, struggling with human relationships. I am the same person, carrying those same things. I once showered in the company of a frog and a bat, and now I search in people's faces for something familiar, for something lost. 

Without knowing, I trailed in the path of a clouded leopard who hid watching in the trees. I hid watching in the trees as a sunbear blindly intercepted mine. I caught the skins of fruits falling from an orangutan's mouth as I sat under his tree, and was once confronted by his angry fangs when I followed him too closely. The forest showered raindrops, sticks and tree-flowers on me, and I saw both the sky through the forest, and the forest from the sky. 

I got bit and stung and invaded by mosquitoes, caterpillars, parasites and viruses, and had my hair gently combed by an Indonesian nurse who had no common language or culture with me. I endured loneliness, and flourished in friendship. I struggled to hear my loved-ones' voices through storms and cables spanning continents. I got lost in the forest and panicked - I got lost in a village and rejoiced. I attended a funeral where white buffaloes were slaughtered to honour the dead, and black vultures were ominously circling overhead. I attended a wedding where I dwarfed both of the dressed up, powdered, decorated and stiff-looking bride and groom. I spent a whole day celebrating the end of Ramadan in people's houses, eating fluorescent-coloured sugar cakes and candy, and drinking sweet tea cross-legged on the floor. I traveled in a rickety car, a rickety bus, a rickety boat, a rickety train and finally a rickety plane, all the time praying I would make it out alive. 

And now I am here, searching in people's faces for something familiar, for something lost.


Jun 7, 2014

Searching

After heavy rain the back yard smells like the rainforest. It really transports me as I sit there in the early morning sun, watching the dog play. She runs through the grass, droplets of water splashing from her feet and getting caught in the light - diamonds sprayed into the morning! She is so happy to be alive. She takes such enjoyment out of sticking her snout in the earth, smelling the fresh grass, rolling around in the mud. Puddles are such a delight for her, as she jumps into them head first, then belly and, with an agile swiveling maneuver, feet up and wriggling, like a muddy little pig. The prospect of going out in the back yard every day is so exhilarating, that she is so happy to see one of her humans in the mornings, greeting us with one of her broad pit bull smiles, the corners of her mouth curling up to show her teeth, and her tail wagging at our feet. Usually I have to reach for the coffee pot grumpily before thinking of doing anything, but today I am as drawn to the outside as she is.

Yes, it has rained. Birds are so loud here, like in the jungle, and though it is not hot yet, the air is ripe with the promise of wet midday heat. It is the kind of heat that smells and tastes of water, the submerging and often suffocating kind. It bears little resemblance to the dry heat of Cyprus, which is striking, powerful and unforgiving.

So what have I learnt over these past two years?, I think as I watch the dog trot about like a goat and relish this beautiful morning. Sometimes it feels like life stopped since my mum's diagnosis, while the world just passed me by. I feel left behind, forgotten and lonely. The robust cords that connected me to the whole planet were severed, and for two years I have been living in the realm of the dead, and the grieving. In the beginning, after she died, I felt a sense of relief and rebirth. I thought "if she can do it, if she can die, then so can I". There was nothing to be afraid of. I was born again as my own mother, and I could build my life however I wanted to, without feeling responsible for her feelings. But those initial thoughts started to wear off like clothes that have been washed only too often. I was left holding rags. I descended into the most profound identity crisis I have ever experienced, as I realised that the only person who really knew me was now gone. All my self doubt, all my fears, all my darkness was met with silence, as if the emptiness echoed: you are nothing. My mother was not there to fight off any of it, to talk me back to reason and strength. The questions that had troubled me before "who am I, what is my purpose, what am I doing with my life" came now clad in an armour of futility, and night after night their powerful clubs beat me to a pulp. And worst of all, I ended up empty. After all the anger, sadness and tears were spent, I was left with nothing to offer. Unable to work, unable to write, unable to sex, unable to read, unable to talk about anything, I felt myself being stripped of colour and substance, and in place of me lived now a white paper person with a paper plate head and a paper thin smile. And this is how I walk about interacting with this world. I feel guilty and grateful for my family's support during this time, as I am unable to justify a lot of my actions, as well as my financial and emotional dependence. I am also secretly envious of the people whose lives seem bright and blissful, and most of all moving forwards. It sounds sad, but deep down I feel like I have no choice, I have to give myself time and wait it out till my lonely rock re-enters the earth's orbit once again. I focus on the small things that give me pleasure, like cooking good, wholesome food, enjoying the sun on my skin, spending the time I have with the people I love well, tending my plants, playing with the dog, listening to people.

As I am starting to write once again, I want to try and find my voice. In trying to find my voice I must talk about my grief. So what have I learnt over these past two years? The dog looks at me with her long tongue hanging out and I know it's time to go inside. Where do I begin? 

Apr 14, 2014

Tony's Seafood Market

Now the seafood market is a different story. The one Mark likes is called Tony's, it's in North Baton Rouge, and it's more upscale than our little tiny local one in Port Allen. North Baton Rouge has a bad reputation for being the city's ghetto. A lot of poverty and gang related violence exists there, and it is one of the more interesting parts of town. From hand-painted shop signs -"Same day car wash, shiney as a diamond"-, to threatening graffitti on concrete walls - "ShawnRee Daquan Williams is a Dead WHORE"-, to gas stations offering things like "hot tamales" and "crawfish pies" for a couple of bucks, it is like a whole part of town is wearing its heart on its sleeve, and ticking to the sounds of a different clock altogether.

[An alien such as myself can only imagine the codes, modes and rules governing a place like this, and no matter how hard I try I will always and forever be on the periphery of its experience. That's why when passing through I make a conscious effort to keep my thoughts quiet, and my senses and heart open. This is what I ask you, reader, to do too when going through my stories. Let's accept that we are standing on a massive structure made of giant hoops placed inside one another. These are the hoops of experience, and each place in the world has a structure like that. We have landed on the American structure, which encloses within it the Southern experience, which encloses the Louisiana experience, which encloses the Baton Rouge experience and so on and so forth. As we hop from the periphery closer to the centre with each day, hoop to hoop, lets keep an open heart and an open mind. Now back to the story.]

Of course we never venture deep into the ghetto, but sometimes we pass by some run down areas to get someplace else. Mark says that you can tell a neigbourhood is poor if it has a pawn shop, a rim shop, and a fast cheque cashing facility. I'm not sure, but I guess Tony's seafood market is somewhere on the perimeter of one such area. It's a very popular place, so people drive from all over to get their seafood there. They've got a security officer in the parking lot, because of all the cars and the traffic in there. 

Once you walk in the smell of seafood hits you, and you're overwhelmed by the amount of people in this large open plan store. It's a smell of sea, but not the kind I'm used to, a smell not as salty but rather more ripe and muddy. There are two sections: the raw section and the cooked section. The raw section is a long line of window freezers full of crawfish, catfish, shrimp, oysters and crabs that you can buy by the pound. Some of the animals are still alive, and under the human chatter and bustle you can almost hear their exoskeletons clicking as they move around slowly, cramped and frozen, clashing claws. I am struck by the diversity of beasts and people, probably for the first time since being in Baton Rouge, hunger and love of seafood uniting people of all backgrounds and colours. We join the long queue at the cooked section because we're super hungry, and I'm trying to catch a glimpse of what's on offer today. The guy in front of us is Mexican and he's talking on the phone, and suddenly my brain is seized by a strange homely but at the same time unfamiliar feeling, and I decide that Tony's seafood market is "where it's at". Across from me a black mother is holding a funny-looking but cute child of around two, his sandy-coloured curly hair nebulously framing his toffee-coloured face. He is wearing a white shirt with a green bowtie, and khaki shorts with brown leather moccasins, a rather serious attire for a two year old boy. He is waving hello at the people in the queue with a slightly confused look on his face. A boy, clinging on his mum's leg, waves back. 

"Whatcha getting honey?", the lady behind the counter asks me as I throw a panicked look at the peculiar food selection in front of me. I try to ask Mark what everything is but he's busy salivating and working his fast mind up to bursting excitement. I see the "familiar" etouffee, jambalaya, gumbo, fried catfish, but then my eye catches an intriguing mix of rice, shrimp, sausage, okra and a mysterious sauce, which might sound disgusting but right then I swear it looked divine. Mark's indecisive so we end up over-ordering as usual, and I'm slightly frustrated because I know I will end up eating everything cause it's delicious, with the risk of becoming what almost everyone else looked like in the store: LARGE. In fact it wasn't almost everyone, it was everyone apart from me, and I must say I never felt more embarrassed or apologetic about my size than I was that day in the store. I guess if we somehow transported Tony's seafood market back to Renaissance Europe, Botticelli or Michelangelo would have pushed me aside in disgust, in their rush to get to the fat lady at the front of the queue eyeing a great big hamburger steak.

"What sides you want, honey?" "I'll get the mac n' cheese, potato salad and red beans", please. -"Can we get a medium crab soup too?", Mark adds. "And cornbread".

At the till our orders get jumbled up with the Mexican man's order, who is still on his phone chatting away. While they clear that up I take a look at the massively long drinks fridge, and pick out a chocolate drink, which reminds me so much of the galataki we used to drink every evening with dinner at home. 

Mark insists we get some boiled shrimp. "But babe, we got all this food!!" Once again, we join the line, Mark thinking about how much shrimp he's going to get, me thinking I need to learn how to peel shrimp. The guy behind us in baggy jeans and a baggy white t-shirt, who must have been around our age, is looking at the shrimp and shaking his head, his neat braids flying around his head, whipping the air: "Yo, they got the head on, man, thas fucked up, they used to sell em without the head man, thas fucked up. You can tell I ain't been here in a minute". Mark said something in agreement and then ordered a pound of shrimp, watching the lady scooping up the boiled animals -legs, tentacles, beady eyes and all- and throwing them in a paper bag. 

On our way to the second till to pay and finally get out, Mark grabbed a bag of cracklins. "No way", I say irritated, "you are NOT getting cracklins". I snatch them from his hand and put them back.

Stepping outside in the parking lot chaos, I ask Mark what the guy meant about the shrimp being sold with the head. "They used to sell them without the head. Now they leave the head on so that they weigh more, and you pay more for less quantity. Times have changed".

I look at the plastic bags we're holding and admire in disgust the amount of food we just bought. Suddenly I glimpse a little bag of cracklins wedged between a drinks can and the shrimp.  Mark glances at me sideways with a cheeky smile. I roll my eyes and whistle through my teeth: "These damn Louisianians..."

Apr 11, 2014

The Daiquiri Shop

I have noticed that perhaps the places where one can most genuinely interact in a real way with their neighbours around here are: the bar, the market, the sex shop. 

They are all places where people are united by their need to satisfy the same thing, and so there is a strange sense of camaraderie and understanding I have not sensed in other places in this town. 

I mean, I've been to church, and I enjoy the music and the pep-talks, and people are very friendly in church, but it's not really a place to stick around and chit chat about life and stuff. People in church are busy catering to their souls, re-counting the sins of the week, taking in the spiritual experience, looking around to see who is there and who isn't, judging this week's selection of songs and whether they were sung well. People are not especially looking to talk to a stranger, and besides, the pastor makes sure to extend a warm welcome to visitors, so the congregation is covered. At service, each person is trying to connect to God through the choir or through the pastor, but not necessarily through one another, and each of his/her spiritual needs are strictly individual, leaving no space for much actual person to person interaction other than the friendly hello and brief talk with your fellow church goers after the service, and before you get into your big car and drive away. 

I guess if you want more interaction through church you have to go through the whole signing up, paying your offerings and tithes, joining a ministry and meeting up every other afternoon to organise charitable teas and events. 

At the neighborhood daiquiri bar however, though everyone's problems and life may be completely different, the needs are the same: booze is booze. Plus booze makes you talk. So you inevitably hear a lot of stories and meet a lot of people when you spend time there. People might be less quick to judge what you're wearing or where you're from, because after a long day, they don't feel like being judged themselves. 

Like Lenny, the ex-cop who was abused by his wife and ended up running away from her. Once, when they were living up in Indiana, he woke up to her sitting by the side of the bed holding a knife over him - "I musta had an angel, or heard the Lord, wakin up when I did". Their neighbours always assumed he was the one abusing her during their fights, and called the police on him several times. "I turned myself in, and tried to explain the situation to them, but they told me to get out of the city and never come back again, else they'd lock me up". Lenny has no home, so he spends most of his time in the bar, from morning to evening, sipping on water or pepsi and watching TV. We might as well have dropped from different planets, but he always greets me with a "Hey, lady". Sometimes people will buy him drinks for laughs. One time he was so drunk he fell off the chair laughing. One of the bartenders took him home and let him sleep on his couch. Another time he was making out with a married woman all night. He rarely has money for food but will insist on buying you a burger from next door if you haven't tried one. "It's the best burger you've ever had". Everyone loves Lenny. 

Some people feel the need to impart some drunken wisdom to you, like the couple who have been married for 20 years and insisted on the importance of this advice: "When he's tired and doesn't wanna clean the house, or wash the dishes, or cook, you do it. In fact, just do it anyway." "Listen, once a month women go crazy, when that happens you gotta understand that her hormones are taking over and just put up with it, you know what I'm saying, it's the moon turning them all crazy". "Sometimes, you will feel like you wanna put a knife to his throat, but just be nice to him instead". "Find a competitive game you both like, and play it often - we like playin' pool, I let her win sometimes", leaning closer and whispering now, "especially during those days of the month". After giving this last piece advice to Mark, the man turned to me, put his face really close to mine, poked his eyeball with his finger and said proudly: "I got shot in the face, lost my eye. Got a glass one in but you can't really tell it's fake". My brain buzzing with alcohol and in nervous response I threw my head back, my legs jerking up off the bar stool, and gave a hearty laugh. 

People's masks come off easier in the bar, but, in the words of one regular: "noone's trippin'". The drunk middle aged white neigbhour might utter to the black bartender, in her southern accent: "Hey Jackson 5, get me another Tropicolada, double shot", to which he might turn to the other laughing black patrons, comically roll his eyes and say "Coming right up, ma'am". 

Wednesdays are probably the busiest days for the daiquiri shop. Happy hour is 5-7, and you get two drinks for the price of one, an irresistible offer even for myself. You get to see a lot of your neighbours if you sit at the bar during those hours on a Wednesday. And their lives might surprise you. People living in trailer parks, people who have divorced and re-married several times, or who have many kids with several babies mamas even they've lost count, UPS truck drivers who live their life in traffic day in day out. Some pop in and out, grabbing daiquiris on the go. The other day, one guy popped in to get one for himself, and one for his wife, who was waiting in the car. Two minutes later, he walks back in with her drink in his hand and a terrified look on his face: "My lady say she don't like this flavour, can I switch, man?" The bartender sighs, and for what seems like the thousandth time in his bartending career says "Sorry, man, you popped the cap, I can't give you another drink". Seeing the beads of sweat starting to form on the man's forehead, a woman sitting at the bar, with her seventh Jagermeister shot in front of her, tries to cheer him up: "I'll buy this drink from ya, give this guy another drink on me, Jim". 

The neighborhood daiquiri shop feels like a place people go to when they have nowhere else to go, like a community centre, but with bar stools and poker machines. Some of the bartenders hang out there even when they don't have a shift, spending hours playing video games or magic cards with each other. It can get stuffy and asphyxiating, what with the strange urine smell mixed with stale cigarette smoke and the aura of people's stalled lives. It's a place where addictions flourish, daily problems are briefly drowned and the jukebox oscillates between classic rock and southern rap. Here you will find men and women bent over an icy slush of rum and sugar, or sitting at a poker booth blowing the month's paycheck.Their lives sometimes resemble the exterior of the bar itself: a half-lit neon sign with letters missing, and long, dark drapes over the shop windows keeping the sun out and hiding the inside from the world outside. It's always dark inside, even in the middle of the day. A box of a building, enclosing many heartaches. 

Apr 9, 2014

One of the great things about living in the South...

...is that you get to listen to music like this live every Sunday. Isn't it enough to make a non-believer sing about God? Yea, it's so beautiful. But even if you don't go to church, this wonderful music finds you everywhere. Last Sunday, I found myself at Mrs. N's house, watching her make an arrangement out of flowers, while gospel was blurting out the radio, and the house was filled with the beautiful smell of different things being fried or boiled on the gas stove. Her son was cooking and singing along in a kitchen full of steam and gospel ("Joy, joy, God's great joy!") while her husband was laid back on the couch, cigarette hanging from his lips as usual, and I could swear that through the smoke and the steam and the flower musk I saw the beans in the pot dancing, and the frying eggs shivering in Lord's praise. Even Chance the crazy little barking dog ("we found 'im in a pound and we took a chance on 'im"), that has to be tied on a cement block with a cable when guests are over to stop him from jumping at them with his snapping teeth, was quiet, basking in the warmth of a beautiful Sunday morning.



Mrs N. used to be a florist, and she owned the shop we now occupy, but multiple sclerosis confined her to a wheelchair, and a life full of little bottles of pills and daytime TV. She also worked as a nurse, and told me that her knowledge and persistence saved her life, because the doctors didn't seem to pay enough attention to her symptoms, and were ready to write them off as nothing. Next to her, the kitchen counter top is always covered with herbal supplements, and she advises me to practice restraint in my use of antibiotics and conventional medications ("Get you some Shiitake mushroom for that, increase your Vitamin D dose to a thousand, and take coconut oil for your heart).

Next to her collection of strange-sounding remedies are her florist tools, a box full of wire, wire cutters, scissors, shears, Aqua-hold, ribbon and other tools of the trade that were forgotten in some cupboard for a few years and have now resurfaced, ready to take on a new life. Since we wanted to learn how to be florists and open up the shop one day, and she was bored all day at home, we struck a wonderful agreement: that she would show us how to make flower arrangements, and that we would keep her busy. 

And so here is one chapter of my current life, my regular visits to Mrs N's house, walking in carrying buckets of roses, carnations, delphiniums, snapdragons and chrysanthemums, and walking out with meticulous arrangements, and the latest 'Young and the Restless' gossip, Mrs N's favourite TV show. 

Life here is good. Even though I try so hard to adapt and fit in a world so different from mine, there are beautiful moments that spark this small suspicion I have that a part of my soul really belongs here, or was born here but accidentally found its way to Cyprus on some easterly wind just in time to enter my little body back on 25 April, 1988. Like the other day, when the sun was shining a brilliant, brimming light all over this small, Misissippi rivertown, and I was working outside on the patio, sitting crosslegged on the floor among compost, pots and tools, planting my new garden: basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay and jasmin to remind me of home. Some neighbour was blasting old school Merry Claytonesque soul music, and I could hear the distant but loud cries of a pastor giving a sermon somewhere outside through a loudspeaker - "...Halelujah! Halelujah!.." - a lively crowd must have been gathered around him to hear the pep-talk, because I could also hear them shouting in agreement - "Yes indeed", "Praise the Lord!" "Alright now", "Preach it!". Just then my best friend walked out of the house carrying coffee, smiling. I looked up at him, eyes squinting from the sun's strong glare, and smiling back broadly I thought: "Joy, joy, down in my soul."




P.S: I strongly suggest you go on youtube to watch this video, then click on the right hand side where youtube has a playlist 'Mix', to hear all the wonderful songs in this recording. 

Jan 4, 2014

Still trying to figure things out

..or maybe that's just an excuse for not writing a single thing or even doing a single thing in the past two months. I can't remember the last time I did something useful or constructive, and in the past week I have been living in my bed, waking up and getting up occasionally to eat and stuff.

I spent the holidays with my family and it was sad and wonderful and I am never happier than when I am with them and I wish we didn't all have to live so far away from each other. But I know it's the way things have to be.

This phase in my life is inexplicable and mysterious to me, but I am living it out and hoping that somewhere unconsciously the knots are being untied and the thread of my existence is unfolding once again before me. For now, I am caught between the tangles and paralysed, like a fly caught on a glistening spider's web, a both internal and external power forcing me to patiently wait for the silky fibers to snap, releasing me once again to life.

From the blank and depressed looks I always get when trying to answer the question "How are you", I realised I should only now say: "I'm good, I'm making it". For once I don't expect anyone to get what I'm saying or even where I'm coming from or even where I'm going. I half-expect to find answers or clues in books and I've taken up reading again. I take particular pleasure in reading old children's stories for a reason I have not tried to understand in depth (lost childhood, nostalgia etc etc etc).

Anyway, here is a short film I came across that clicked somewhere in my mind, I guess it captures the essence of some of the things I have been feeling lately.



The Boundaries of Life and Death from Saskia Kretzschmann on Vimeo.